A lot of people use the terms lead nurturing and content marketing interchangeably. I prefer not to do this and I’ll admit that my distinction is somewhat artificial. It doesn’t really matter what you call these two strategies because a rose is still a rose by any other name.

What does matter, however, is that you have clearly delineated between the two strategies and that your approach to using content offers two options: a shallow swim and a deep dive. I think of lead nurturing as a shallow swim. I think of content marketing as a deep dive. What’s the difference and why should you care? More importantly, how will this distinction help professional service firms acquire great new clients?

If you get these two strategies right, your sales and business development people will never try to talk to someone who isn’t ready and they’ll never miss an opportunity to talk to someone who is ready. Let’s explore how to do this.

Key Take-Away:

Lead Nurturing helps you maintain top-of-mind presence with prospective new clients and it also helps them see you as the expert.

The tactics show the way

Lead nurturing tactics are like a shallow swim, or even like wading up to your ankles in someone’s content. It doesn’t take long to consume a blog-post, an infographic or even a short video. In just a few minutes you can read an article and encounter an idea that maybe you hadn’t thought of before. These are tactics common to lead nurturing.

Content marketing tactics, on the other hand, are a deep dive. You’ll spend quite a lot of time with them to realize the benefit. These tactics include webinars, traditional books, e-books and action guides, kind of like the ones we have on our website. These deep dive pieces contain a lot of great ideas and require a significant time commitment on the part of the content consumer.


Which is more important?

Some people want to argue that one type of content, and one strategy, is more important than another. I think they are both equally important and you actually need both as part of your marketing strategy. If you are a leader at a professional service firm, then both of these strategies will help you close business in the short-term and nurture opportunities for the long-term.

Lead nurturing is about dripping relatively small ideas over time onto an audience who fits your ideal client profile. This strategy helps you maintain top-of-mind presence with prospective new clients and it also helps them see you as the expert.

But content marketing tactics are useful in helping identify people who are ready to engage in serious sales dialogue right now. Think about it this way. If someone registers for your webinar, then downloads an e-book and then signs up for an action guide, they are saying in so many words – “I really need this information.”

Their behavior is an indicator of their need. Usually this means they have a project at hand. If you have been giving them great ideas about how to accomplish the goals of their project, they’ll probably want to talk to you.

But if someone has only been consuming a blog-post here and there or accessing a video every few weeks, their behavior is saying – I find you interesting but I don’t have a need right now. Over time they probably will have a need. This is why nurturing leads is so important to your long-term revenue generation.


How you follow-up

Follow-up is also very different between content marketing and lead nurturing tactics. I don’t recommend that you reach out and try to have a sales conversation with someone who simply signed up for you newsletter or blog-site. That behavior does not indicate an immediate need for your services. If the person who performs the follow-up is annoying, the prospect might even opt-out of your newsletter. In this instance, you missed a deal that might have been coming down the road.

But the opposite is true also. If someone registered for one of your deep-dive content assets and you don’t follow-up with them, you might be missing an opportunity. But rather than follow-up with everyone who registers for a webinar, for instance, I think it is best to find their profile on LinkedIn to see if they fit your ideal client profile.


Should you change your content strategy?

I invite you to take a close look at your content strategy and ask yourself – do we have both deep-dive and shallow-swim types of content? Are you consistently dripping your content on prospects who fit your ideal client profile? If the answer is no, then you are probably missing opportunities. It’s probably time to take a close look at your content strategy.


How to get started

To help you get started down this path, I have a free resource for you. It’s called 7 Steps To A Lead Nurturing Program That Keeps You In Front Of Prospects. It contains 7 videos and downloadable tools that you can use to build a lead nurturing process that will be really effective over time. It’s free and it’s available right now.